In this article you can find all the answers to common questions about one of the most important, and the largest, internal organs of your body.
G. Anton Decker is gastroenterologist and chief medical officer of the Banner Medical Group in Phoenix. He says : “If you’re a healthy person, you might not think twice about your liver and you’re probably not even aware of what your liver’s doing”.
But, the liver is such an important organ and because of that it makes sense to educate yourself about it. This is especially true if you’ve been having health problems or have a history of liver issues.
Here are 9 questions you might be wondering about and answers you want to know.
1. What does my liver do?
Liver is one of the hardest-working organs in your body, it performs multiple critical functions to keep the body pure of toxins and harmful substances.In a nutshell, liver processes anything you eat or drink, and either repackages it for your body to eliminates or to use or it. Dr. Decker used to say that – “The liver is the Grand Central Station of the body”.
2. What’s the best habit I can follow to keep my liver healthy?
The liver is the major organ for nutrient processing – anything bad you consume will be associated with potential for damage. This is saying Timothy T. Nostrant, MD who is professor emeritus of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.So, the best you can do, is to focus on healthy eating.
3. What’s the best diet for my liver?
There are three important nutritional guidelines you need keep in your mind: First, to get your fill of protein mainly from plant-based sources. Second, to focus on natural foods, and to reduce fat in your diet.The best sources for proteins are plant-based foods like beans, legumes, and lentils. Although you can also get protein from animal sources, keep meat to a minimum. Also, you can eat foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains that aren’t processed with chemicals.
Finally, although your body needs fat, you need to avoid trans-fats. You will consume monounsaturated fats ( those from avocados and nuts), and include polyunsaturated fat sources like fatty fish, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds. You must limit your total fat intake to 20 percent of your diet.
4. What else can I do to keep my liver healthy?
Obesity is linked to fatty liver disease(that can lead to scarring or cirrhosis of the liver, and even liver cancer or liver failure). So, if your weight is an issue, you need to set a goal to lose 20 percent of your current weight, which will substantially reduce risk of liver damage.
You need to limit alcohol, to one drink a day for women and two for men, because it can cause cirrhosis.So, even if you were once a heavier drinker and have since cut or eliminated alcohol intake, the damage may not show up until years later. That’s why you should be honest about this with your doctor, who might need to test you for underlying liver damage. Other risky behaviors are abusing over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen, a pain reliever that can cause damage if taken in large amounts over a small amount of time.
Finally, you should avoid being with multiple sexual partners, IV drug abuse, and body piercing or tattoos with unsterilized needles, so you can decrease your risk of liver damage from hepatitis C and hepatitis B.
5. If my liver isn’t working right, what symptoms will I notice?
The most common symptoms is fatigue.Despite decreased appetite, you can also experience nausea, vomiting, brown urine, or even jaundice, which causes yellowing in the whites of your eyes.
6. What kind of test can be run if something is wrong?
You can do blood test also called the liver function test. It doesn’t test how well your liver is functioning, but rather, if your liver is leaking enzymes. Decker says that, the test would indicate that something is awry.
7. Does it mean that my liver is healthy, if I get a “normal” reading on that blood test?
“Normal function test is no guarantee that your liver is healthy, especially if you have a history that raises concerns about your liver”, says Decker.Your doctor may decide to do more tests, based on your history and symptoms which might include an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.
8. What about getting tested for hepatitis C, and how do I even know if I’m at risk?
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease spread through contact with the blood of someone who’s infected with the that virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2.7 million people have chronic hepatitis C, so that means the virus has progressed to a long-term illness. Roughly 75 to 85 percent of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection.
Using intravenous drugs at any point in life, receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992, being treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987 or being on long-term hemodialysis treatment, are the main factors that increase your hepatitis C risk. If you fall into any of these categories, your doctor will recommend blood tests to screen for the virus.
9. What’s my prognosis if I am diagnosed with some type of liver disease?
⦁ Fatty liver;
⦁ viral hepatitis, including hepatitis C;
⦁ and genetic diseases, are the main diseases of the liver.
Nostrant says : “All of the viral hepatitis diseases are treatable, and because treatments for hepatitis C in particular are so effective, some people may be able to completely eliminate the virus from their body.”